I have this set of three plants on the windowsill in my office. I purchased them many months ago when I first starting working at my current job. They liven up my office, give it a little color, and are nice to look at. Because the window in my office faces east, there is only a portion of the day when the plants receive direct sunlight. But I have faithfully taken care of them, so despite the fact that their circumstances only allow them to have a few hours of sunlight a day, they have been growing very nicely. Well, actually I should say two of them have been excelling, while the third seems to be struggling. The third plant looks fairly good at first glance, but when you really look you notice the dying branches deep within the plant. It appears to be failing from the inside out.
One day, I was really trying to figure out why one of the plants wasn’t successfully growing as well as the other two. I water them all equally, they are all planted in the same type of soil, they are all in the same sized pots, and they are all right next to each other on the same windowsill. That’s when I noticed a small detail. When the sun shines into the window, the center wood trim separating my two office windows partially blocks the sun from shining on the struggling plant. So, the fact that this plant is living just a few inches away from the other two healthy plants has caused his entire struggle. The plant is unable to grow to his full potential because of a small detail, his placement on the windowsill. He isn’t getting quite as much daily nourishment as his two companion plants; therefore he is not becoming the large plant that he has the potential to become.
While pondering the situation of this plant, I realized something very important. We all have potential. We all have the ability to be very successful, to prosper and flourish during our life here on this earth. But what we often fail to realize is the very necessary daily nourishment we need in order to live happy, good lives often lies within the small details that we fail to notice. You may question why the person standing next to you has seen so much success in their life while you never seem to really “make it.” If you find yourself with this type of thinking, I believe the differences between you and your successful neighbor are small but significant.
Here are three “little details” that make a huge difference:
Successful people are just as devoted, if not more, to their faith as they are devoted to other aspects of their life. They study, and I mean really dig deep, into their own sacred readings every day. They aren’t just quickly skimming scriptures to check it off the list. They talk with God (or whatever higher being they believe in) regularly, and I’m talking about actual real conversation, not just rehearsed prayer. Their faith is bigger than any of their successes. And ironically, the bigger their faith grows, the more successful they become. By the way, I’m not talking about financial success or other worldly definitions of accomplishment. I’m talking about the kind of success that results in peace of mind, true happiness, and personal growth; the success that comes from knowing you are on the path that God has designated for you. We can all find this path through faith.
People who find themselves generally happy and successful are family-oriented. They see the importance of marriage despite living a world moving farther and farther away from this commitment. And they make it a goal to one day be married themselves. Then, when the day comes that they meet their companion, they get married and become a family. They have children if they are able to, and their daily focus is on strengthening the family. The successful spouse is faithful, loyal, and constantly focused on the needs of his or her family rather than the needs of one’s own self. And, even an unmarried person can be focused on family. We all have Mom’s, Dad’s, Grandparent’s, siblings, etc. While all families aren’t perfect, they are certainly necessary for true personal success and happiness. As a wise leader, President David O. McKay, once said, “No other success can compensate for failure in the home.” If you are more focused on success in your job or hobbies rather than success within your family, you will never achieve your full potential.
My Dad introduced me to the concept of grit, and I have been intrigued by it ever since. He is one of those people who is very successful in all that he does, so the fact that he so strongly possesses this quality makes me think it is an imperative one for accomplishment and happiness. Grit is “perseverance and passion for long term goals.” Successful people are not short-sighted. They have vision for their lives, and are willing to stick through the sometimes mundane days in order to achieve what they want to achieve. And here is one thing I love about grit. We all have different talents, right? So we may fall into the trap of coveting our neighbors talents and finding ourselves saying “I can never achieve what they achieve because I’m just plain not as talented.” Well, even if you don’t consider yourself to be especially talented, if you can develop the attribute of grit you can absolutely be successful. If you are persistent, you can achieve it. And as my Dad once said, for those who are able to maintain grit throughout their lives, “Perhaps your definition of success will change over time, but the sense of personal satisfaction will be there.” Grit stretches you outside of your current level of contentment and causes you to achieve whatever it is you are meant to accomplish.
Easy enough, right? These three things, faith, family, and grit, may seem simple. But just as the plant that cannot fully succeed due to his poor positioning on the windowsill, we too will have a much harder time finding success if we neglect these three pieces of essential nourishment. I have observed successful people, and have truly noticed the importance of these three aspects within their lives. And, I’ve seen it within my own life recently.
I have lately found myself in what I like to call “victim mode.” I have felt that some circumstances are out of my control and so I’ve developed the mindset that “this is just my lot in life.” Guess what? That’s just not the case. You, me, everyone else, we’re all in control of our faith, our commitment to family, and our grit, and it’s these little details that give us the ability to change our circumstances. So, I’m stepping it up and I’ll let you know how it goes. I am going to work hard to strengthen my faith and really lean on my Heavenly Father to know what the next step is I need to take in life. I am going to become more devoted to my growing family, and base decisions I make on their needs. And, the hardest one for me, I am going to find grit. I don’t think grit comes as naturally to me as it does to some, as I tend to give up quickly on inspired ideas that I have rather than persevering. So I’m going to be gritty and “stick to my task until it sticks to me.”
If you, like me, feel stuck within circumstances and have developed a victim mentality, take the challenge with me! Let’s focus on these three things and be in control of our success in life, rather than focus on things outside of our control. You and I are just as capable as our successful neighbors. We can achieve the same level of happiness and achievement as the most joyful person we know. Success and satisfaction lies within the little details.
Bright Blue Stone